The Q&A Archives: Crepe Mrytles De-barking

Question: I have 2 Crepe Myrtles in full sun, that I transplanted 2 months ago. They were doing well until about 3 weeks ago, when I noticed some of the bark peeling off. Underneath was a dry dead looking tree. This has completely killed one stalk (about 6 feet tall), and is infecting the other stalks (5 others total). I have been watering them often (we're in Central Texas,where it has not rained in about 2 months). This doesn't seem to be aphids, mildew, cercospora, or mold. I would be grateful to save these trees before they all go! Thanks

Answer: It sounds as though you've look for all the probably causes and came up empty handed so what you're seeing is probably normal. Not only is the peeling bark normal on a crape myrtle, it is one of the interesting features that many people like about this Southern summer favorite. The flowers create a spectacle, but the bark, too, can be showy and attractive, and many gardeners prune the plants to emphasize the plant's trunk structure.

If you're convinced it is not normal, dig around in the soil to check the drainage, root structure, etc. If you uncover nothing out of the ordinary, simply prune out the dead plant parts to encourage healthy new growth.

Best wishes with your crepe myrtles!

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